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Grit is the Quality Most Correlated with Success: TED Talk with Angela Lee Duckworth

By on Friday, Nov 22, 2013 in Grit and Success, Inspiration for writers | 0 comments

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I saw this video on Facebook this week and found it to be the most inspiring piece I’ve seen in a long time. I hope you watch and are inspired, too!
Psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth discussed in a TED talk the factor most significantly correlated with success in life. 
(This video is from the Huffington Post at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tedtalks/angela-lee-duckworth-tedtalk_b_4277459.html or from YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H14bBuluwB8)
That factor was not social intelligence, good looks, physical health, or IQ, but rather a factor she calls grit. Here is how she defines it:
“Grit is passion and perseverance for very long term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years. and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon not a sprint.”
And here’s what she said about talent and grit (they aren’t necessarily related): 
“Talent does not make you gritty. Many talented individuals don’t follow through. Grit is unrelated or even inversely related to talent.”
This is the greatest thing! To realize that as writers, we can learn our craft, that through dogged effort and determination, we can succeed. Talent, shmalent–it’s all about rolling up our sleeves and investing our hard work and mind power.

Dr. Duckworth discussed how you How you build grit in kids but this is important for us every day as well. Kids did best on a task, (i.e., persevered), when they had growth mindset, i.e., the belief that the ability to learn is not fixed but can change with effort. These kids were more likely to persevere when they fail because they don’t believe failure is a permanent condition. 

This is so inspiring to me as a writer, where goals take long to achieve and the road is often fraught with many ups and downs (I’ll say ups and downs instead of words like despair and desperation). The downs can create such torment that they make you want to quit forever. But if you believe this video, that’s just when you’ve got to believe that continuing to work hard will show results.

I used to play tennis in high school. I was basically a kid off the street, no lessons, nothing, when my coach discovered my best friend and I hitting balls against a brick wall. (This would never happen these days when kids basically have to be groomed from the womb to play sports. The coach simply told us, show up for practice tomorrow at 9 am and bring your racket.)

That one invitation opened up a whole world for me and I will be forever grateful for it. What I learned from tennis was that it’s not only a physical game that requires skills and practice. When you’re up against an opponent, the game becomes mental. Your own mind becomes the dragon on the court.

Writing to me is a lot like that. We slave for months over our work, mostly alone. Every day when turn on the power button we must slay doubts, face rejections, face fears that we aren’t good enough, that we suck. Often there is no one over our shoulder telling us otherwise–we have to reach deep inside ourselves to come up with the dogged inner strength–the grit–to say–yes, we are.

I wish everyone who struggles with self doubt to watch this video and realize you are not alone. That achieving any kind of goal in life is never easy and with writers, what goes on inside our heads is just as important–no, far more important–as the events that occur outside it. 

So, today, hug your writer friends and let’s all go forth and be gritty!

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